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DECATUR - A lot of laughter accompanies a practice session of the Muffley Pom Pon Divas.

Led by kindergarten teachers Jaya Lawary and Melissa Prasun, the fifth- and sixth-grade "divas" work hard and learn fast.

"We learn a new dance for every performance," Lawary said. "We all kind of (choreograph) together. The first routine, Mrs. Prasun and I made it up ourselves, but the rest, we took (the girls') input and pieced it together."

Sometimes, she said, they'll let the music keep playing and just watch what the girls do, and if they like a step, they'll incorporate it into the routine.

In signing up for the poms last fall, the girls and their parents promised to keep up their grades, keep a positive attitude and remember that younger students look up to them.

"If we get bad grades twice, then you get booted off the team," said Carly Ellis, a fifth-grader.

A bad grade is a D or an F. Good behavior also is required, said Jasiah Young, a sixth-grader.

"If you get a referral two times, you're off the team," she said.

The team started with 28 girls, and because Lawary and Prasun enforce the rules, they're down to 12 girls who've kept the agreement. None of the 12 has ever been ineligible.

"We're so proud of them," Lawary said. "We tell them we can't have them out here representing Muffley School if you can't do what you're supposed to in the classroom."

It's just a matter of keeping up, the girls said.

"I read and study," Jasiah said. "If I get a bad grade, I bring it back up."

Carly said she pays attention in class and does her best. She's wanted to be on the team for a while, and now that she's old enough, she doesn't want to blow her chance.

Jasiah was in the former coach's class in fourth grade, and that motivated her.

Lawary and Prasun like to dance and offered to take over the team together. Prasun's daughter, Taylor Paxton, a second-grader, runs the boom box and goes by the nickname of "D.J. Tay."

The team performed at two Eisenhower High School games and one MacArthur game, as well as at a Thomas Jefferson Middle School event, their own pep rally when their boys basketball team made regionals and at the school's talent night.

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